Thanks to modern medicine and advances in public health, the world’s population is living longer. The number of people aged over 80 will triple in the next 30 years, according to the projections of World Population Prospects 2019 from the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
However, a long life doesn’t guarantee a healthy life. Our body gets weak and frail as we age, making us more susceptible to diseases. Now scientists are investigating molecules that have anti-aging potentials to help us live not only longer, but healthier.
Inside all of our cells, we make an important molecule called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, better known as NAD+. Our cells use NAD+ for a variety of purposes, some of the most important of which are to produce the energy that our cells need to function and to activate proteins that repair damaged DNA. As we age, the amount of this molecule declines.
Scientists believe that the decline of NAD+ underpins many of the health-related problems that we face as we age. If we could stem this loss, the thinking goes, we might both live longer while remaining healthier.
One way that we might sustain healthy levels of NAD+ is by supplementing our bodies with its precursor, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). All cellular compounds are made in a way analogous to a factory assembly line, where each component is the precursor for the next one. To produce more NAD+, then, one needs more precursors like NMN.